Lacto-Fermented Salsa is our favorite way to preserve this spicy condiment — the vegetables remain fresh tasting and with tons of texture, and the garlicky juices are positively addicting (Bloody Mary, anyone?). Small batches can be made up quickly and easily by the quart and, if you’ve never tried it before, is a great introduction to fermentation. Just gather up end-of-summer tomatoes, peppers and sweet onions, and add a bit of whey to get the good bacteria going. After two days of sitting at room temperature, the jars go into the fridge for longer-term storage. Our root cellar hasn’t cooled down enough yet; if it had, they could be stored there as well. The salsa can be eaten at any time, and, like good kimchi, gets better with age.
We got our start with fermentation through Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions, from which this recipe is from. The proportions in this salsa are flexible, just use enough to fill the jar. Paste tomatoes are the meatiest choice, though most any variety will do. While the original recipe calls for peeling the tomatoes, we leave them on — it adds texture while saving a step. We use a mix of mild and hot peppers, and green onions in place of the cilantro. The whey comes from yogurt drained overnight or, in its place, you can increase the amount of salt. The jars don’t need to be sterile, though do make sure that they and the utensils you use are clean. Use only enough extra water to ensure that the vegetables are submerged in liquid. Once it’s ready to serve, the salsa may be made spicier by adding more hot pepper, or drained for a chunkier version.
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 3 cups)
2 small onions, finely chopped
3/4 cup chopped peppers, mild or hot
2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (or green onions, parsley)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
Juice of 2 lemons or limes (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/4 cup whey (or additional 1 tablespoon salt)
1/4 cup filtered water
– Mix all ingredients in bowl, pressing down lightly with a wooden pounder until the juices release. Transfer to a 1 quart mason or canning jar; the top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. If necessary, top off with filtered water to make sure vegetables are covered with liquid.
– Cover snugly with a 2-piece top and keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days before transferring to cold storage. Makes 1 quart.
Adapted from “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon.